Author Archive for livolsivr1

Bubble Ball by Robert Nay

Have you ever wanted to create an app, but dismissed the idea because you knew nothing about coding? That did not stop 14-year-old Robert Nay. He decided that since he did not know how to code, he would learn. He researched at his local library to learn more about programing and in only a month had written over 4,000 lines of code for his app.

Bubble Ball was released in 2010 in the Apple App Store. It was downloaded more than two million times in the first week, and eventually dethroned Angry Birds from the #1 spot on the App Store’s list of free games. The game is puzzle-style involving physics with 72 levels—120 levels for those willing to purchase the premium version. In addition, there is now a community levels feature in which users can create their own levels to share with other players.

What I appreciate about Nay is that he did not let his limited knowledge keep him from pursuing a goal. He channeled that passion into gaining the skills and knowledge needed to make it happen. His dedication to his product is evident, and I strive to have that kind of dedication for the projects I take on.

Caine’s Arcade

Were you one of those kids who built things out of cardboard boxes? I know I was one of them, and so was Caine Monroy. At age 9, Caine build his own cardboard box arcade in the front of his dad’s auto parts shop. In the summertime, he would go with his father to work every day and build new games for his arcade. Some of the games and mechanisms became quite complex and were extremely clever. Caine would work every day even though it took quite a while to have his first customer. His commitment certainly paid off.

Nirvan Mullick stopped by the shop one day to purchase a door handle for his car. He was immediately amazed by Caine’s arcade and bought a “Fun Pass” for $2 (a Fun Pass let you have 500 plays on any of the games—good for one month). A few weeks later, Mullick stopped back at the shop to speak with Caine’s father. Mullick was so inspired by Caine’s arcade that he wanted to make a short film about it. He started the film making and decided to take it a step further. He created a Facebook event for a surprise flash mob at Caine’s arcade and word quickly spread. The event attracted an incredible amount of attention from the news, Reddit, and other venues on the internet.

Eventually, a college fund was set up for Caine and donations quickly exceeded the original goal. Caine’s creativity has inspired things like the Global Cardboard Challenge. Children from all over the world build games and other inventions out of cardboard and share them on the internet to show Caine and to inspire other kids.

Caine retired his arcade at age 11, but today (now 14-years-old) Caine is still seeking to inspire young creators. He has done speaking engagements with Mullick and is currently an aspiring engineer.

Caine’s perseverance has paid off in a big way. Through running his arcade, he gained more confidence and has been able to dream big for his future. I admire the fact that he cared enough about his business to keep running it even though, in the beginning, he did not have a single customer. He spent that time making his arcade better.

Taylor Swift the Entrepreneur

Taylor Swift? An entrepreneur?

Celebrities are rarely thought of as being entrepreneurs. However, oftentimes when you look at their careers, you can see hints of an entrepreneurial mind. Taylor Swift is no exception. At the age of 12, she was doing what she loved—making music. She took advantage of every opportunity to share her music with the world, from festivals and open mics, to walking right into record labels and handing them her demo CD. She was determined to do what she loved for a living.

Eventually, Swift was offered a record deal after a music producer heard her play at an open mic, and she is with the same label today. No matter what you think of her music, her success is undeniable. On top of her numerous big-name awards—including 10 GRAMMYs—her albums and song releases have set outstanding records. Her upcoming album, reputation, has already had each one of its three singles reach #1 in several countries. This fact does not sound very noteworthy, considering her past success. However, Swift has not done a single interview or promotional event to market her newest album. Instead, she invited fans she has interacted with on Tumblr and Instagram to her home to listen to the album before anyone else.

What I appreciate about Swift’s career is that she is walking that line between being true and expressive in her art, and managing the business aspect of it. As a photographer, I relate to this balancing act. You do not want one side to take away from the other. Art is important to every human being whether it is expressed as a song, a photo, or even a sport one plays. When you are given the opportunity to do what you love for a living, you are faced with many decisions on how to handle both areas of your art. Those decisions on either end will define your success. Swift has met each of these challenges with careful planning and decision-making.

I admire Swift’s ambition and her persistence in the face of criticism. I also admire her involvement in every aspect of her career—lyrics, music, tours and set design, and so much more. She has worked hard to be where she is today, and I aspire to work as diligently as she has done.

The Grove

While college dorms do not permit pets, plants get the OK. Jamie Byron took advantage of this allowance during his senior year at MIT. Although his roommate, Gabe Blanchet, was skeptical, Byron pieced together an indoor garden. Later that winter, Blanchet decided it was not such a bad idea as they sat in their dorm eating fresh grown salad. That is when the two decided to team up and make this type of indoor garden available to everyone.

The product is called the Grove, and it is a bookshelf style indoor garden, capable of hosting anything from herbs to tomato plants. Mail subscriptions are available for seed and plant renewals, and their website offers how-to videos for those who have not yet acquired their green thumb. They also offer an app that assists you in growing and caring for your garden.

Quite possibly the most interesting part of this invention is the integration of a fish tank. The addition of the aquarium takes this product from a garden to what is called an aquaponic system. The waste from the fish is cycled through the plants, and in turn, the filtered water from the plants goes back into the tank.

Byron and Blanchet’s goal through this business is to provide a garden system to those who would not normally have access to one. They have a passion for promoting healthy eating and that is apparent at the core of this product.

What I appreciate and Byron and Blanchet’s venture is the sheer cleverness of it all. The aquaponic nature of the invention is incredible. It is also great to see inventions of new ways to have access healthy food. The app and website integration is well done and is an attractive part of their business model. I admire Byron and Blanchet’s creativity and passion for their product and its cause.

Tumblr: The New Way to Blog

In the age of traditional blogs, David Karp wanted a place where he could use a tumbleblogging format, better known today as a microblogging platform. This style of blog would offer the ability to share multimedia posts such as videos, short text posts, and pictures. After waiting for a while, he decided he was done waiting and ended up launching his own microblogging platform. That platform is what we know today as Tumblr.

At the age of 20, Karp launched Tumblr with the help of Macro Arment. The site was released in February of 2007, and within just two weeks, Tumblr had over 75,000 users. Today, Tumblr boasts over 359 million blogs. Six years after its launch, Karp allowed Yahoo! to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion.

Karp is admirable in his ambition to start his own tumblelog. He saw a need and since it was not being filled, he filled it himself. He created a platform that did not exist yet and paved the way for others to come along in different iterations—Pinterest, WeHeartIt, etc. His idea and drive certainly paid off literally, but seeing how he took the initiative to do it himself inspires me not to think of myself as incapable of creating something just because no one has done it before. Karp stepped out into an area no one had explored yet, and created a new market and space for innovation.

Zollipops: The Lollipops That Clean Your Teeth

At just 7 years old, Alina Morse saw a need to be filled while in line at the bank. The bank teller offered her a lollipop, but Alina refused because her parents always told her that sugar was bad for her teeth. Exasperated, she later asked her father, “Why can’t we make a lollipop that’s actually good for your teeth?”

From that moment on, the two started working on what later became known as Zollipops. Alina’s father helped with $750 of the startup cost and Alina saved up her money until she had enough to start the company. The whole family participates in running the Zollipops company, and Alina calls herself the “idea person.” She uses her imagination to come up with new products and flavors.

Not only are Zollipops sugar free and made with natural ingredients, but they are also beneficial for your teeth. The company has further expanded to offer Zolli Drops (comparable to hard candy) and Zaffi Taffy. All of these products are held to the same standard of good ingredients that are safe for dental health. They are available in a variety of flavors from mint to assorted fruit flavors.

At such a young age, Alina was able to see a gap that may only be seen from a child’s perspective. I admire the responsibility she demonstrated in caring about dental health, and her desire to provide a way for children to enjoy lollipops without all of the damaging ingredients. Her perspective challenges me to look for gaps I may not see in my daily life since I am no longer a child.

Alina exhibits a drive and passion for her company, and I believe that is one of the reasons why she is successful. She cares about her product because it was a personal “pain” she felt and so she did something about it. I strive to have the perceptiveness in recognizing and solving the pains and inconveniences I encounter in my everyday life.